A farmer’s night before Christmas

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Christmas barn

It ’twas the night before Christmas and all through the farm, not a creature was stirring not even snowball the over-privileged barn cat.

Who was now curled up on the office chair, sound asleep, after hiding out until everyone went home. Maybe tonight’s the night she won’t clean off the counter just because she can.

The calves were all nestled deep in their straw beds, a cozy warm place with a nesting score of 3. Their legs were barely visible when Diane said good night and closed up the barn until morning’s sun light.

The calves were all having some of the sweetest dreams with hope that Santa would leave them a few things. Sally was dreaming of a new calf jacket to keep her warm during the blustery January polar vortex, helping her continue to grow and have the best immune system possible.

While Bobby, the big eater of the herd, is dreaming of more milk on Christmas day as temperatures plummet below zero. As a rule of thumb, Bobby hopes for 10% more milk for each 10 F the temperature falls below freezing.

While the littlest calf Stacy, who just recovered from one nasty, nasty cough, is dreaming of open air vents and positive pressure air tubes. She knows that will help to keep other babies healthy, with better ventilation and lowing pathogen load too.

The cows were all milked and sound asleep, on their fresh beach sand softly bedded freestalls, dreaming of warm hands and winter teat dips.

While Bessy may not be in need of a new tube of Chapstick, maybe Santa will bring a drum of winter teat dip, with 74-76% emollients that help protect, heal and soften winter teat skin.

“Please,” she requests, “make sure it still has an effective germicide” because mastitis she does not wish to catch as the new year blows in.

Ole faithful Sue has dreams of milkers who massage her teats while drying with a soft cloth towel and don’t pick at the rough teat ends; ouch that hurts!

Safety Linda has dreams of cobweb free heaters and maybe a fire extinguisher or two to keep the barn safe, as no cow wants to sleep in the snow after the flashing red lights have to visit the farm; that is not the kind of warmth anyone dreams of!

Grandma and grandpa are in for the night with supper finally eaten and a nice bowl of ice cream almost gone. The fire is warm, and grandpa is reading the latest issue of Farm and Dairy when an ad catches his eye.

Shiny new robots are a tempting investment. He looks at grandma with a smile and says, “Maybe we should get a few of these. I can tell your hands are tired from all these years of milking and maybe we could even get an extra hour of sleep.”

Grandma sleepily looks over and says, “we can barely run a computer! How will this even work? Maybe the grandkids could run these fancy things, but milk prices look so awfully bleak.”

Oh, but look here, Ohio State University Extension has some programs this winter to helps us all! “If only we had a computer with internet to view them on,” Said grandpa.

They have programs on dairy market risk management, agronomy, forages and cattle care, which can be found at agnr.osu.edu/programming, and “look right here, programs to help us better manage our employees or use the data from these new robots” said grandpa.

Over the river and through the woods, the grandkids are all asleep in their beds, with visions of Santa and his elves dancing in their heads.

Tyler is dreaming of a trip to grandpa’s, not just for the tasty food but a little time to explore the barns to see what shiny new paint the “neighbor” permanently left.

While sweet Elizabeth is dreaming of an International 460 to play with just like grandma’s. This will do in the meantime until the day when she is running the farm with same determination and grit as her grandma did.

The boys may think they run the farm, but everyone really knows who runs the farm. We all know she really calls the shots for it all.

Lastly, little Ally sleeps so sound. She knows daddy will be up at 4 a.m., and her present to him is to help him milk on Christmas morn’. But as she sleeps visions of kittens, puppies and calves dance through her head right until Christmas morn’.

As Christmas draws near, we all exclaim, “Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year to everyone from OSU Dairy Working Group!”

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